Lyndi Williams is an opera singer who performs with Amarillo Opera, in Texas. She also appears with Amarillo Civic Chorus, West Texas Chorale, West Texas Chamber Singers, Sfortzando Singers, TEXAS the Musical, Amarillo College Choir and Vocal Jazz Choir. Ms. Williams holds a Bachelors Degree from West Texas A&M University and is currently completing her Masters Degree in Vocal Performance.
Along the years Ms. Williams has been the winner of a number of competitions. She won the West Texas Concerto Competition, was a three-time finalist at the Texhoma Region NATS competition and the MTNA Texas regional winner at the Artist Division Competition. She has been singing with Amarillo Opera since the year 2000.
Ms. Williams performs nearly all of Manukyan’s vocal works and she has premiered “Three Songs About Love”, indefectibly overcoming the great challenge of singing them in Armenian. An article published in Amarillo Globe-News (available from: this link), marks the beginning of her collaboration with Manukyan.
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Singing in Armenian
By Lyndi Williams
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2008
My collaboration with the Armenian-American composer Edward Manukyan has been an exciting experience. Earlier this fall, a mutual friend recommended me to Mr. Manukyan, who at that time was in search for a soprano to premiere his recently composed song-cycle, "Three Songs About Love" for high voice and piano. I presented some of my recordings to the composer and soon our collaboration was under way.
Both surprised and enthusiastic about the idea that an American soprano would sing his three songs in Armenian language, Manukyan began his impressive and rather professional linguistic tutoring over the phone from Los Angeles, helping me pronounce the difficult Armenian words.
During the process of learning the basics of Armenian phonetics, I faced rather serious challenges, because an English speaking tongue has a difficult time forming the combinations of vowel sounds and consonants that are characteristics of the Armenian language. As Mr. Manukyan and I worked through the music, I began to see similarities between Armenian and other languages that I presently sing. Some of the harsher consonant sounds began to feel like German and there were also some similarities to Czech and Slovak languages. The most impressive though, for me, was the coincidental similarity between Armenian language and Texan dialect. Yes! Certain words and phrases in Armenian sound very close to our Texan accent.
Before long, I proficiently accomplished both the lyrics and music by heart, and performed them in Canyon, Texas, with Jan Walser as my accompanist. I later met Mr. Manukyan in Los Angeles where I was to give newspaper interviews and work with the composer on some more of his compositions that I will be presenting both in Armenia and the United States. I have now fallen in love with the language, the music, the culture, and the exciting challenge they all present to a singer. It is perhaps the greatest joy for an opera singer to get to know other cultures through the most important cultural properties - language and music.
I am delighted at the opportunity to travel to Armenia to perform the European premiere of these works at the Aram Khachaturian concert hall in Yerevan, during a concert with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, and at subsequent concerts in Yerevan and elsewhere. It is flattering to know that Mr. Manukyan has dedicated the occasion of the first performance of his music by the Armenian Philharmonic to the 100th anniversary of an Armenian scientist (Viktor Ambartsumian) and to the 80th birthday of the great American biologist James D. Watson, whom the composer considers the most important human being alive, due to the significance of Watson’s monumental discovery of the DNA structure in 1953. It is especially an honor to perform on concerts with such important dedications, and I think both the scientific and cultural communities will appreciate all efforts put in this work.
Soprano Lyndi Williams and Edward Manukyan in Los Angeles. October, 2008.
Newspaper article about Ms. Williams's collaboration with Manukyan (from Amarillo Globe-News).